Naish’s Ewan Jaspan has had nothing short of an incredible 2017. Starting off with a second place finish at the 2017 Kite Park League opener at the Blue Palawan open, Ewan has gone on a tear with wins at the Triple-S and Bridge of the Gods Kite Festival, a second place finish at the KPL Hood Jam and recipient of the 2017 AWSI Kiteboarder of the Year. After spending a busy summer based in Hood River, Oregon, Naish was able to catch up with Ewan at home in Australia after releasing his latest video part “Stranded” and prepares to wrap up his year with the Rhosneigr Park Jam in the United Kingdom.
Naish: Hood River has become something of a home base for you for the summer months, what keeps you coming back year after year?
Ewan: It’s pretty rare to find a place with such good kiteboarding that offers as much as Hood River. Most of the other destinations I travel to such as Brazil, Philippines and Perth, I can spend a few weeks or even months there, but by the end of the trip I am more than ready to head home and do something different. Hood offers so many activities and is such a great community of people that I find myself wanting to stay longer every time it comes to leaving. The mix of the Slider Project kite park, the great food, accommodations and hospitality of the town and the vast array of other extreme sports on tap within a short drive or bike ride of town is unlike no other place and is definitely what keeps me coming back.
N: When watching your edits it’s always clear to see your ability to blend technical tricks with a heavy focus on style, how would you describe your style?
E: I don’t know how to really describe my own style, I guess I try and just make it ‘my own’ if I was to define it. I also have a strong focus on not being happy with a trick until I feel I have done it as well as I can, and with proper execution. When releasing a new video part, I usually won’t release it unless it shows progression from my last video part. Whether its new tricks, better execution, or even just the same tricks but in a much tougher location, I don’t want my riding to go stale.
N: Are there any particular athletes or other sports that you draw your inspiration from and try and incorporate into your riding?
E: For sure, inspiration is what keeps us going and is a key to progression in any sport. I look a lot to wakeboarders, snowboarders and even skate as well, those sports are far more mature and developed than kiteboarding, and with so many riders in each of those sports pushing it, there are always new ideas coming. Within kiting, Sam Light and Brandon Scheid and Christophe Tack are definitely the three people who have pushed me and inspired me the most with my riding. I try and pick and choose what I want to try from their riding (and many others) and try and put my own flair on it, and then go from there!
N: There’s a lot that goes into filming a video part, for every shot hat makes the cut there’s at least ten other ones that didn’t, describe some of the challenges in the filming process?
E: Yea for sure, and this one was the hardest I’ve had! The wind in Hood River is insane. For those that haven’t been there an average day sees anywhere between 5-35 knots and swinging direction. The park requires a certain angle of the wind (252 degrees to 270 degrees) and this can be harder to find, and time, than you think. We had so many sessions that by the time we got out to the spot and into position the wind died or swung and we didn’t even get one clip. Most sessions would be about landing one or two tricks and could take hours of crashing and bad gusts and trick aborts. We did however have one amazing filming session, this was the part on the left foot Session kicker, follow filmed on Alex’s modified fisheye camera. This camera was very hard to shoot with, you almost can’t tell from the footage, but you have to be within 1-2m of the camera to even use the footage, with most of the shots being far closer, and at times I hit the camera. We had a lot of tricks that just weren’t close enough to use and the shot selection part was again a huge mission. Props to Alex for sifting through these for hours and hours on end, not to mention the insane hours he put in walking out and back multiple times a day.
Another huge challenge was a knee injury I sustained just about half way through filming. The West Coast was experiencing a heat wave and due to the amount of power needed, the dams were running very low, which meant the water was very shallow. This also meant that half the park was left high and dry and unhittable. On one day when the water came up a bit I tried to hit one of the rails to get some shots and ended up nosediving into the sand and twisting my knee. I took a week off and then had to ride very conservatively for the rest of the shoot, which was a bummer for sure.
N: Working with Alexander James Lewis-Hughes, did you guys have a similar vision in how you wanted this part to turn out as far as shot angles and over style of the edit?
E: Alex has very strong views on boardsports and has a true board rider mentality. We wanted to make this a video for the riders and for people who would appreciate the filming and riding, rather than just going for a viral video. He used a 7D shooting in Raw with Anamorphic lens, which gives a very unique shot. The colors come out amazing and the look of the footage is super cinematic. This mixed in with the Fisheye gave a skate look to the video, which is something Alex is also passionate about. I think the video really turned out exactly as we had envisioned, but gave us a lot of new ideas and experience to take onto future projects.
N: For those that might loose count in rotations, your final trick is a Frontside 900, roughly how many attempts did it take to get this trick and was this a highlight moment for you this summer?
E: I had actually landed this trick a few times earlier in the summer, and even in Cape Hatteras, but during the time we were shooting, I just couldn’t get the right wind to land the trick. It probably took me about three sessions of 2-3 hours of only trying that trick, haha. It was so frustrating as I had landed it before but I just couldn’t get the right gust of wind, and we had extra shit conditions to try in. I probably took about 50 crashes before I got a good one. The one in the video was literally the last shot left on the camera battery. Alex had been telling me for 15 minutes the battery was about to die, and he told me, ok this is the last attempt. I got lucky with a gust and just felt good and went for it, landing the best one I’ve probably ever done, haha, and then the battery died as I was riding away.
N: Let’s talk about the Kite Park League World Tour for a minute. You’ve been extremely consistent this year with going 2-1-2 so far. How do you feel moving towards the final event in Wales?
E: It’s a big finish for sure. After the whole year so far I am ranked first, but interestingly, whoever wins the last event, out of Brandon, Sam and myself, takes out the tour. I’ve never been in this kind of position before to win a tour or with the pressure of holding it down in first, so I guess I am a little nervous. Last year I didn’t ride so well in Wales, but I feel I’m a much better competitor this year so we will see!
N: You were also recently crowned the AWSI Kiteboarder of the year for 2017, after a rough couple years with injury setbacks do you feel like 2017 has been the year you’ve returned to form and riding at your full capabilities?
E: Yea I guess this is the first year where everything has come together and I feel like I’m definitely riding the best I ever have. Kiteboarder of the year is a great title and recognition for what I’ve achieved this year and am super grateful towards AWSI for voting me the title. To answer the question if I feel I’ve returned to form, I guess it’s the first time I’ve ever really had this level, so I hope I can just keep the momentum going and have a great 2018 as well!
N: Any other trips of upcoming projects people can looks forward to see coming out in the future?
E: I’m really focused on making some sick projects at home in Australia this year. There is still so much coastline I haven’t explored and hopefully myself and Alex can film a few more parts around the country this summer and have more good times!
N: Thanks for your time Ewan and good luck in the UK!